College Tennis Scholarships
Playing tennis at the college level has become an international competition. College tennis coaches were some of the first coaches to actively recruit and scout international tennis players and today college tennis has more international athletes per capita than any other college sport. This means the competition for the limited number of tennis scholarships is tough.
Breaking down college tennis scholarships by the numbers
There are over 1,100 women’s programs with 320 NCAA DI, 212 NCAA DII, 361 NCAA DIII, 110 NAIA and 141 NJCAA programs respectively.
There are fewer men’s tennis programs with 950 nationwide. That breaks down to 263 NCAA DI, 161 NCAA DII, 314 NCAA DIII, 92 NAIA and 120 NJCAA tennis programs.
Each team has only a limited number of tennis scholarships and at the men’s level there are 4.5 scholarships for NCAA DI and DII programs, 5 per team NAIA and up to 9 for NJCAA schools. Women’s programs have more scholarships with 8 per team NCAA DI, 6 per team NCAA DII, 5 at NAIA schools and 9 per team at the NJCAA level.
How coaches use college tennis scholarships
With fewer scholarships per team then player’s coaches have to use their athletic money to maximum effect. That means unless you will be immediately in the top five singles or top doubles teams coaches will probably not offer you an athletic scholarship right away. It is not very common for a coach to give scholarship money to an athlete who will need to continue to develop before they are ready for that level of competition. The good news is, if you are willing to look at more schools and different division levels you can usually find a program where you can find the opportunity to play right away.
Find the right schools before you look for a scholarship
If finding a scholarship is a high priority for you, it is critical you are looking at schools that fit your abilities. Over 50% of NCAA DI scholarships are given out to international student athletes. Unless you are playing against international competition and hold a solid ITF ranking, getting a scholarship at the top level will be extremely difficult. Take some time to understand what the competitive levels are like at the other division levels and you can save yourself a lot of time when seeking out potential schools.
Don’t just go to tournaments, get scouted at tournaments
Several prep tennis players fall into the trap of thinking they are being recruited because they are playing in tournaments where coaches watch players. They make the assumption a tennis scholarship will follow if they just continue to play and get results in those tournaments. Coaches don’t go to tournaments to find talent; they go there to assess the talent they know is there. Tennis scholarships won’t just be offered to you if you aren’t speaking with coaches and communicating with them regularly. By simply letting coaches know what tournaments you will be at and how you finished you can change the odds to your favor.